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Fully-funded ACCE Biology project: Role of planting density on microclimate formation and climate resilience


   Adapting to the Challenges of a Changing Environment (ACCE)

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  Dr D Ezer  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Lead supervisor: Dr Daphne Ezer (University of York - Department of Biology)

Co-supervisors: Prof Calvin Dytham (University of York - Department of Biology) Prof John Pitchford (University of York - Department of Maths) Dr Andrew Suggitt (Northumbria University - Department of Geography and Environmental Science)

The student will be registered with the Department of Biology

Heat waves will become more and more common in the UK because of climate change, and this is threatening many British landscapes. For instance, protected wildflower meadows in the UK are expected to experience a reduction in biodiversity, as many characteristic hay meadow wildflowers have lower temperature tolerance than dominant grasses. Unfortunately, the effects of rising temperature are understudied in hay meadows and other systems with dense foliage. One of the challenges in predicting the impact of rising temperatures on dense natural environments is that dense plant communities form microclimates which are important buffers to extreme temperatures.

This research will investigate the extent to which native meadow species form microclimates and how this influences resilience to heat waves. This work will involve growing various meadow species at different densities in the lab and observing the microclimate formation, local humidity, thermal tolerance and acclimation, and phenotypes under different growth-chamber simulated heat waves. You will have the opportunity to learn how to develop mathematical models to explain the observations and make predictions about various climate change scenarios. The long-term aim is to be able to predict how spatial organisation of plant communities will influence the formation of microclimates, and then evaluate how this influences their temperature tolerance under climate change. This will be especially important research to conduct in agriculturally-managed landscapes such as hay meadows, as farmers may be able to adapt the species composition and planting densities to improve the thermal tolerance of the ecosystem.

The ACCE DTP is committed to recruiting extraordinary future scientists regardless of age, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, disability, sexual orientation or career pathway to date. We understand that commitment and excellence can be shown in many ways and have built our recruitment process to reflect this. We welcome applicants from all backgrounds, particularly those underrepresented in science, who have curiosity, creativity and a drive to learn new skills.

Please complete and upload this proforma in support of your application.

Entry Requirements: Students with, or expecting to gain, at least an upper second class honours degree, or equivalent, are invited to apply. The interdisciplinary nature of this programme means that we welcome applications from students with backgrounds in any biological, chemical, and/or physical science, or students with mathematical backgrounds who are interested in using their skills in addressing biological, ecological or evolutionary questions. 

Programme: PhD in ACCE (4 years)

Start Date: 1st October 2023 (the student will be registered with the Department of Biology)

Shortlisted candidates will be interviewed in the w/c 20 February 2023


Funding Notes

This project is part of the NERC ACCE Doctoral Training Partnership. Appointed candidates will be fully-funded for 3.5 years. The funding includes:
Tax-free annual UKRI stipend (£17,668 for 2022/23 academic year)
UK tuition fees
Research support and training charges
International students will need to have sufficient funds to cover the costs of their student visa, NHS health surcharge, travel insurance and transport to the UK as these are excluded from UKRI funding.
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